Last fall, as West Springfield student Kelly Hogan donned the butterfly outfit for a children's lesson on butterflies, an award was hardly on her mind.
"I've worn some other crazy outfits around here," Kelly said. She was among the 32 volunteers from around the county recognized by the Fairfax County Park Service, on Wednesday, April 23, at the Fairfax County Government Center. The ceremony preceded National Volunteer Week, April 27-May 3.
National Volunteer Week was established by President Richard Nixon by an executive order in 1974. It recognizes volunteers on the local, state and national level.
Park spokesperson Judy Pederson stressed the significance of volunteers, especially at a time when cuts are being made in the county budget and park hours are trimmed.
"They're already an important part of our operation," she said.
The Park Service gives several awards throughout the year, including the Elly Doyle award, Volunteer Fairfax, and the Older American award. This ceremony included those individuals, plus additional winners.
The south-county area had several award-winners. Kelly was the recipient of the Elly Doyle award last fall and an additional award for being on the Wall of Fame at Hidden Pond Nature Center. She puts in about 10 hours a week and enjoys working with children in the various camp settings at Hidden Pond.
"In the summer, I'm going to be a naturalist and run day camps," Kelly said. "I've been a camp counselor for the past few summers." In addition to the butterfly outfit, she has worn groundhog, bear and frog outfits.
Kelly plans on going to Virginia Tech in the fall, where she wants to major in math. Accompanying her on the Wall of Fame is Scott Darwin, a fellow senior at West Springfield. Scott was also at the awards ceremony. From his experience at Hidden Pond, he's acquired an interest in environmental science.
"I started volunteering when I was in seventh grade," Scott said. "Right now, I'm taking AP [advanced placement] environmental science in high school. I'm way ahead [in curriculum] from my experience here at Hidden Pond."
Scott plans on going to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and majoring in environmental science.
"My work got me into it, really," he said.
OVER AT SOUTH RUN PARK, Mary Craddock Hoffman was recognized for her expertise in desktop publishing. She produces a park newsletter.
"People have been raving about the newsletter," said fellow South Run employee Dee Longfellow.
South Run volunteer coordinator Kurt Lauer noticed that as well.
"She has really raised the bar on newsletters around here. I have shared it with the volunteer coordinator at other recreation centers, and they seemed pretty enthusiastic," Lauer said.
As a starter for the Burke Lake Golf course for the past 15 years, John McClanahan is a familiar face around the par-3 course. He was noted for his contributions.
"He's always recognizable for the Thursday morning crowd," said golf facilities attendant Lewis Musolf.
Volunteers are present in most of the operations at the golf course, according to Musolf.
"Just here in the clubhouse, we have 25 volunteers," Musolf said. "We've cut back some of our staff hours. We couldn't operate without our volunteers."
Tom Mathis was recognized for his bike trail efforts at Lake Accotink as well. Mathis is the Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts liaison to the park, and he facilitates communication between the park and the mountain bike community.